1995: Led by coach Dom Capers the Carolina Panthers take the field with a roster full of solid veterans. In their first game the Panthers play valiant football before losing in overtime to the Falcons 23-20 in Atlanta. After losing their next game in Buffalo to the Bills, the Panthers play their first home game in Clemson, South Carolina better known as “Death Valley” with rookie QB Kerry Collins getting the start after Frank Reich struggled in his 2 starts. The Panthers would lose again 31-10 to the St. Louis Rams. The Panthers would go on to lose their first 5 games before beating the New York Jets 26-15 behind a 36-yard interception return by Sam Mills. The win would be the first of 4 straight as the Panthers even beat the defending Super Bowl Champion 49ers in San Francisco 13-7. The Panthers would continue to play solid football splitting their next 6 games, before losing their season finale 20-17 to the Redskins in Washington. Had the Panthers won they would have completed their inaugural season with a .500 record. However at 7-9 they still were able to post the best record ever for an expansion team.
1996: On September 1st the Panthers christen Ericsson Stadium their new place in Charlotte, with an impressive 29-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers would win their first 3 games, before 4 straight road losses sandwiching 2 home wins dropped them to 5-4. From there the defense would take over as the Panthers won their final 7 games to finish with a 12-4 record, as the Panthers defense held teams to stingy 218 points on the season, 2nd best in the NFL. Thanks to a sweep of the San Francisco 49ers the Panthers won the NFC Western Division Title earning a 1st Round bye. After an undefeated regular season at home the Panthers hosted the defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys at Ericsson Stadium. The Panthers would jump out early and would go on to win 26-17, as Sam Mills’ long interception return sealed the game. However, the Panthers magical season would end a week in the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay with a 30-13 loss to the Packers.
1997: The Panthers playoff hopes take a hit before the season even starts as QB Kerry Collins suffers a badly broken jaw on a controversial cheep shot by Bill Romonowski of the Denver Broncos. The injury seemed to affect Collins all season as he struggled horribly throwing 21 interceptions to just 11 TD passes as the Panthers played mediocre all season on the way to a disappointing 7-9 record.
1998: First came rumors that QB Kerry Collins made an off color racial slur, that made him a pariah to his teammates. After a 0-4 start Collins suddenly quit the team leading the Panthers to release their once promising quarterback. Under Steve Beuerlein the Panthers continued to struggle eventually extending their losing streak to seven games. The Panthers would go on to finish with a horrible 4-12 record as the Panthers played uninspired football all season, seemingly quitting at the end of the season. Following the season Coach Dom Capers would be fired and replaced by George Seifert, who had an impressive .766 career winning percentage in eight years with the San Francisco 49ers.
1999: The Panthers stumble out of the gate losing 5 of their first 7 games, in their first year under George Seifert. However, with Steve Beuerlein passing for 4,436 yards while connecting on 44 TD passes the Panthers win 6 of their final 9 games to post an 8-8 record. Helping Beuerlein is a trio of receivers who put up big numbers. Muhsin Muhammad and Patrick Jeffers each gain over 1,000 receiving yards while TE Wesley Walls collected 822 yards. The 3 combined for 32 TD receptions with Walls and Jeffers having 12 each. However, it was the off the field exploits of another receiver that brought embarrassment to both the Panthers and the NFL. On an off day in November Carruth participated in the drive by shooting of his pregnant girlfriend. Although the baby would survive his victim, Cherica Adams would die form her wounds leading to a sensational murder trial. Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 25 years ending a promising NFL career.
2000: Prior to the start of training camp the Panthers are devastated by domestic violence again when former RB Fred Lane is murdered by his wife. The Panthers never quite get it rolling losing 3 of their first 4 games on the way to a 7-9 season. Following a season in which he passed for 3,730 yards QB Steve Beuerlein is not resigned as the Panthers selected Heisman Winner Chris Weinkie in the 4th Round.
2001: The Panthers get off to a promising start as QB Chris Weinkie stars in a 24-13 win over the Vikings in Minnesota in the season opener. After the September 11th terrorist attack postponed the 2nd week of the season the Panthers fell to 1-1 with a 24-16 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta. The Panthers would drop their next 2 falling to 1-3, before losing on a last 2nd TD to New Orleans Saints at Ericsson Stadium 27-25. A week later they would fall to 1-5 after blowing a 14-0 lead to the Redskins in Washington. A week later it was heartbreak at Ericsson Stadium again with a 13-12 loss to the New York Jets. It would only get worse as the Panthers continued a downward spiral blowing leads losing close games and getting blown out. When the smoke cleared the Panthers found themselves at 1-15 after a first ever in season 15 game losing streak. The Panthers were simply bad on both sides of the ball ranking 30th of 31 teams in Offense and dead last in defense. Following the season Coach George Seifert is fired losing 32 games in 3 seasons, 2 more then he lost in 8 years in San Francisco with the 49ers.
2002: After losing their final 15 games the year before the Panthers had to start from scratch and with new Coach John Fox the Panthers decided to build with defense drafting DE Julius Peppers from UNC with 2nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. When the season started the Panthers went the veteran route with their starting QB naming Rodney Peete who had not taken a snap in 3 years as their starter. Peete would prove a serviceable solution as the Panthers won their first 3 games. However, injuries would lead to an 8-game losing streak as the Panthers plummeted into last place in the NFC South. However, the Panthers would end thee season on a string note winning 4 of their last 5 games to finish with a 7-9 record. Top Rookie Julius Peppers would go on to win defensive rookie of the year honors with 12 sacks in just 12 games as he was suspended the final 4 games for using the banded supplement ephedra.
2003: The Panthers started their season in dramatic fashion with a 24-23 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars as QB Jake Delhomme came off the bench and led a 17-point 4th quarter rally connecting with Ricky Prohel with 16 seconds left for the winning TD. In Week 2 the Panthers were shutting down the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers when suddenly on the last play of regulation the Bucs appeared to have the game won with a TD. However, the Panthers were given a stunning stay of execution as the Panthers blocked Martin Gramatica’s PAT. In overtime the Panthers would take advantage beating the Bucs on a 47-yard FG by John Kasay. After winning the next 2 games the Panthers faced the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 in a showdown of unbeaten teams. Again the Panthers would win in dramatic fashion rallying from a 13-3 halftime deficit to win in overtime 23-20, improving to 5-0. After losing to the Tennessee Titans the following the Panthers again came from behind to win overtime beating the New Orleans Saints on the road 23-20. After a stunning loss to the Houston Texans the Panthers again won in dramatic fashion sweeping the Buccaneers 27-24 with a 5-yard Delhomme to Steve Smith TD with 1:05 left to give the Panthers full control of the NFC South. The following week the Panthers did it again as Stephen Davis made his former team pay scoring a TD with 1:09 left as the Panthers beat the Washington Redskins 20-17. At 8-2 the Panthers were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. However things would be rough as the Panthers lost their next 3 games. Needing to get momentum into the playoffs the Panthers took advantage of weak competition beating three last place teams to close the season with a solid 11-5 record good enough for their second division title in franchise history. The Panthers got their playoffs off to a strong start with a dominant 29-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys at home avenging a loss from the regular season, holding the Cowboys to just 204 total yards along the way as Stephen Davis alone collected 239 All-Purpose Yards with 2 Touchdowns. The Panthers second round game on the road against the St. Louis Rams would not be nearly as easy as the Rams scored 11 points in the final 5 minutes to send the game to overtime tied 23-23. After each team missed potential game winning field goals in the first overtime the Panthers again showed their flare for the dramatic as Jake Delhomme connected with Steve Smith on a dramatic 69-yard TD pass on the first play of the 6th Quarter as the Panthers advanced to the NFC Championship Game with a 30-23 win. Facing the Philadelphia Eagles not many people had given the Panthers a chance to reach the Super Bowl. However the Panthers defense harassed and hassled QB Donovan McNair all game as Ricky Manning intercepted McNabb 3 times, while pressuring him all game with 5 sacks one of which injured the All-Pro QB’s ribs eventually forcing him to miss the entire 4th Quarter, as the Panthers advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII with a 14-3 win.
Super Bowl XXXVIII: The Panthers road to Super Bowl XXXVIII had been an improbable one, just 2 seasons after a wretched 1-15 season the Panthers were now in the biggest game of them all against the New England Patriots. After a scoreless 1st Quarter the Patriots drew first blood after Jake Delhomme fumbled on the Panthers own 20-yard line. The Panthers would recover with a quick 90-yard drive to tie the game at 7. However the Pats responded with a quick drive of their own to take a 14-7 lead with 18 seconds left in the half. The Panthers would not go quietly into halftime as they moved into FG range quickly allowing John Kasay to hit a 50-yard FG as time expired in the 2nd Quarter. After a scoreless 3rd Quarter the Patriots would extend their lead to 21-10 just 11 seconds into the 4th Quarter. The Panthers would strike back quickly on Deshaun Foster’s 33-yard Touchdown run. After the Panthers 2-point try failed the score was 21-16, but the Panthers had not been in control all game as the Pats drove down the field an appeared to be on the way to putting the game away when Reggie Howard intercepted Tom Brady’s pass in the endzone. The Panthers would take full advantage and on one play turned the Super Bowl into a contest as Jake Delhomme connected with Mushin Muhammad on an 85-yard TD pas to give the Panthers a 22-21 lead. Unfortunately the Panthers 2-point conversion attempt would fail again. The Panthers lead would not last as the Pats scored a TD on the next drive, while adding a 2-point conversion to take a 29-22 lead. However, the resilient Panthers would not go away quietly tying the game with 1:08 left to tie the game. However, the Panthers kickoff went out of bounds and the Patriots were set up at the 40 only needing to get into Field Goal range to win the game. The Pats would drive 47 yards as Tom Brady in familiar territory set up Adam Vinatieri who nailed a 37-yard FG as time expired to give the Pats the Lombardi Trophy with a 32-29 win.
2004: Coming off their surprise trip to the Super Bowl optimism was high in Carolina as the Panthers looked to be strong again. However right from the first game they would be ravaged with injuries as both RB Stephan Davis and WR Steve Smith both suffered injuries that would essentially end their seasons in a 24-14 Monday Night loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Panthers would rebound to beat the Kansas City Chiefs the following week, but the loss of several key players became too much to overcome as they dropped their next 6 on the way to a terrible 1-7 start. Facing a lost season the Panthers suddenly turned it a round with Nick Goings picking up the slack for Davis and Mushin Muhammad having a career year with 1,405 receiving yards and 16 Touchdowns. Suddenly back in the playoff picture with a chance to improve to .500 the Panthers saw a furious comeback against the Atlanta Falcons come up short as their 3 TD 4th Quarter which forced overtime came up with a 34-31 loss. After rebounding to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week the Panthers needed just to beat the New Orleans Saints at home in the season finale to slip into the playoffs at 8-8. However their offense would sputter in a 21-18 as they would settle for 3rd place with a 7-9 record.
2005: As the season started the Panthers were considered one of the top teams in the NFL as Sports Illustrated even picked them to win the Super Bowl in their NFL Preview issue. However, in Week 1 they may have gotten a little sting from the SI Jinx as the Panthers were stunned at home by the New Orleans Saints who entered the game still reeling after becoming vagabonds because of Hurricane Katrina. After bouncing back the following week to beat the New England Patriots 27-17, the Panthers stumbled again losing to the Miami Dolphins 27-24. The loss in Miami would spoil a career day from WR Steve Smith who collected 170 yards receiving with 3 Touchdowns. It would not be the only big day Smith would enjoy as the Panthers 5’9″ receiver who was thought by most experts established himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL leading the league with 1563 yards, while scoring 12 TDs. Following the disappointing loss in Miami the Panthers finally played the football experts predicted them to play as they won six games in a row, as Steve Smith had another career day collecting 201 yards in a 38-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Following a 13-3 setback on the road against the Chicago Bears and consecutive wins over the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers at 9-3 faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the NFC Southern Division on the line. The Panthers would fall behind early as the Bucs tough defense held the Panthers scoreless during the first half taking a 10-0 halftime lead. After each team exchanged field goals in the 3rd Quarter the Buccaneers took a stranglehold of the game as Cadillac Williams scored his second TD to give Tampa a 20-3 lead on the way to a 20-10 win. After a revenge win over the Saints in Baton Rouge, the Panthers suddenly saw their playoff hopes on the ropes as they lost to the Dallas Cowboys at home 24-20 on Christmas Eve, as a less than jolly Steve Smith was ejected after grabbing an official. Needing a win in their final game the traveled to Atlanta and slammed the rival Falcons 44-11 making a statement along the way to earn a Wild Card berth with an 11-5 record. Facing the New York Giants the Panthers were the team that looked like the division winner as they simply as they simply shutdown the Giants all game long turning the usually loud Giants Stadium into a the quietest place in New York, as the Panthers defense forced 5 Turnovers as Steve Smith scored a rushing and receiving TD in a dominant 23-0 win for the Panthers. Traveling back to Chicago where they stumbled earlier in the season the Panthers got off to a fast as Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith on a 58-yard TD pass just 55 seconds into the game. The Panthers behind three John Kasay Field Goals would take a 16-7 lead into halftime, but the Bears would not go down quietly as they scored early in the 3rd Quarter to make the score 16-14. The Panthers would answer back late in the 3rd as Smith scored on a 39-yard pass. In the 4th Quarter the Bears would again get within 2 points on an 11-play TD drive. However, the Panthers would answer back again as Delhomme who passed for over 319 yards hit Kris Mangum for a 1-yard pass as the Panthers won a trip the NFC Championship 29-21. Facing the Seattle Seahawks the Panthers entered the game limping as DeShaun Foster was injured in the win over the Bears, leaving them without a reliable running game. The lack of a running game would prove costly as the Seahawks defense keyed on Steve Smith and shutdown the Panther star WR on the way to an easy 34-14 win to earn a trip to Super Bowl XL.
2006: After falling one game short of a trip to their Super Bowl, expectations were high for the Carolina Panthers, as they were the trendy pick to win the Super Bowl in the preseason. However, with WR Steve Smith nursing a hamstring injury the Panthers got off to a shaky start dropping their first two games of the season. Steve Smith returned in Week 3, as the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-24 on a 46-yard Field Goal by John Kasay with 2 seconds left in the game. The win against the Bucs, would get the Panthers going as they rolled off a four game winning streak, However, following a 17-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Panthers experience their worst loss of the season on a Sunday Night at home against the Dallas Cowboys. After jumping out to a 14-0 lead the Panthers allowed the Cowboys to end the game with 35 unanswered points as first time starter Tony Romo passed for 270 yards against the Panthers defense. After entering the bye week with a disappointing 4-4 record, the Panthers again beat the Buccaneers at home 24-10, scoring 17 points in the 3rd Quarter after trailing at halftime 7-0. The Panthers defense put up their best effort a week later sacking Marc Bulger seven times as they shutout the St. Louis Rams 15-0. However, a week later they would be stunned by the Washington Redskins 17-13. A week later they would be stunned again as they blew a 4th Quarter lead losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-24, in the process they also lost QB Jake Delhomme to a thumb injury. With Chris Weinke starting against the New York Giants the Panthers continued their nose dive falling below .500, as Weinke was picked off three times in a 27-13 loss. The Panthers would lose again the following week to the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-3, virtually ending their playoff hopes. The Panthers would win the final two games of the season, but at 8-8 they would fail to make the playoffs.
2007: After a disappointing season the Panthers hoped they could get back on track in 2007 as they opened the season with a solid road win over the St. Louis Rams. However a week later in their home opener the Panthers suffered a set back losing to the Houston Texans 34-21. The Panthers would recover with a 27-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but lost QB Jake Delhomme to a season ending elbow injury. With newly acquired back up David Carr under center the Panthers lost a chance to get first place as they were beaten at home again, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17. On the road again the Panthers won again in Week 5, beating the New Orleans Saints 16-13 on a 52-yard game winning field goal as time expired by John Kasay, capping a 10-point rally in the game’s final four minutes. However, along the way David Carr was shaken up forcing the Panthers to call upon 20-year veteran Vinny Testeverde, who was more then up to the challenge leading the Panthers to another win on the road, beating the Arizona Cardinals 25-10. Carr would return a week later, but the Panthers continued to struggle at home losing to the Indianapolis Colts 31-7. It would be the start of a five game losing streak as neither Carr nor the 43-year old Testverde could get the Panthers offense moving. The Panthers would end their losing streak by finally get a win for the home fans, as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-14. However, there would be no salvaging the Panthers season as they ended the year with a disappointing record of 7-9.
2008: After two straight disappointing seasons, the Panthers began the season under the gun, as they many felt the still had the talent to go deep in the playoffs, yet they continued to fail in the big spot. In Week 1 the Panthers found themselves down again as they allowed two touchdowns in the 4th Quarter and trailed the San Diego Chargers on the road 24-19 with time winding down. However, Quarterback Jake Delhomme drove the Panthers up the field and hit Dante Rosario on a 14-yard Touchdown pass as time expired to give the Panthers a dramatic 26-24 victory. A week later the Panthers rallied again beating the Chicago Bears 20-17 with 17 unanswered points in their home opener. After a 20-10 setback against the Minnesota Vikings on the road, the Panthers posted two solid home wins, as they won eight of their first ten games. After a frustrating loss to the Atlanta Falcons on the road, the Panthers continued to play strong football, scoring a 35-31 win over the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field, as DeAngelo Williams scored four touchdowns, including a game winning one yard plunge with 90 seconds left. A week later the Panthers took control of the NFC South with a 38-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as DeAngelo Williams had another big day with 186 yards rushing and two 4th Quarter Touchdowns. The win avenged an earlier loss in Tampa, when the Panthers posted their worst offensive performance losing 27-3 in Week 6. Following a 30-10 win over the Denver Broncos the Panthers faced the New York Giants with home field on the line. The Panthers played another solid game in the Meadowlands, but lost in overtime 34-28. The Panthers would go on to close the season with a 33-31 win over the New Orleans Saints to finish with a 12-4 record which was good enough for a first round playoff bye. Facing the Arizona Cardinals at home, the Panthers were heavily favored to reach the NFC Championship Game. Early on things looked good as the Panthers scored a touchdown on their first possession. However, they would not score again until the final minute of the game, by then the Panthers completely unraveled, with Quarterback Jake Delhomme committing six turnovers as the Cardinals scored the upset with a 33-13 win.
2009: After their disappointing playoff performance the Panthers began the season with a tough early schedule as the same turnover problems that plagued Quarterback Jake Delhomme against the Arizona Cardinals continued in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles as he turned the ball over five times, before being benched in a 38-10 loss at home. The Panthers would lose their next two games on the road against the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys to enter the bye week with an 0-3 record. Things looked bleak in Week 4, as the Panthers trailed the Washington Redskins 17-2. However, Delhomme finally got on track as the Panthers scored 18 unanswered points to win the game 20-17. The Panthers were nearly doomed by the big play when they faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a week later, but thanks to a DeAngelo Williams touchdown late in the game they were able to win the game 28-21. However, they were not able to keep up the momentum as they suffered an embarrassing 34-21 loss at home to the Buffalo Bills. The Panthers would recover to extract some revenge on the Arizona Cardinals, winning on the road 34-21 as the Panthers defense intercepted Kurt Warner five times. However, they would lose three of their next four games to fall out of the playoff race. At the same time Jake Delhomme who continued to struggle all season suffered a hand injury that would lead to him being replaced as starter by Matt Moore. With Moore under center, the Panthers finished the season strong, winning four of their final five games to post an 8-8 record. The four wins, included a primetime win over the playoff bound Minnesota Vikings and a 41-9 win over the New York Giants in the final game at Giants Stadium for big blue. They would end close the season with a 23-10 win over the eventual Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, who were more concerned with resting up for the playoffs. The following off-season would bring several key departures to Carolina, as leading pass rusher Julius Peppers left for as free agent to sign with the Chicago Bears, and Jake Delhomme was released and ended up signing with the Cleveland Browns, while Mushin Muhammad announced his retirement.
2010: With the departure of QB Jake Delhomme the Panthers began the season with Matt Moore under center, while drafting Jimmy Clausen in the second round out of Notre Dame. The season would not begin well for the Panthers, as they lost their season opener to the New York Giants 31-18 in the first game at the new Meadowlands Stadium. A week later in their home opener things would not get any better as they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-7. In Week 3, Jimmy Clausen would make his debut but would not do any better as the Panthers were beaten at home by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Panthers would go on to lose their first five games heading into their bye week. With Matt Moore getting the start against the San Francisco 49ers, the Panthers would finally get their first win, as they scored ten points in the last two minutes to post a 23-20 win, thanks in part to a big interception by Richard Marshall. However, the wins would not come in bunches for the Panthers as they dropped their next seven games, as Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen continued to struggle at quarterback. Making matters worse the Panthers had troubles in their running game as DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both lost time due to injuries. Stewart would return by the end of the season, as the Panthers got a second win against the Arizona Cardinals 19-12 in Week 15. However, it would be their last win as they dropped their final two games to finish the season with a record of 2-14. Following the season the Panthers would dismiss Coach John Fox, and replace him with Ron Rivera.
2011: After a miserable 2-14 season, the Panthers were starting from scratch with a new coach in Ron Rivera and a rookie quarterback in Cam Newton, who had won the Heisman and led Auburn to a National Championship. In his first game Newton drew rave reviews as he passed for 422 yards with two touchdowns. The 422 yards was the best game ever for a quarterback making his first NFL start. However, the Panthers would lose 28-21 on the road against the Arizona Cardinals as the Panthers defense surrender a 70 yard pass play an 89 yard punt in the fourth quarter. A week later Cam Newton and the Panthers would host the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in their home opener. Once again Cam Newton had a big day, as he became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to pass for 400 yards in his first two games, with 432 yards. However, his three interceptions would prove costly as the Packers won the game 30-23. A week later in the rain, Cam Newton would get his first NFL win, as the Panthers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 16-10. While the rain dampened Newton’s numbers, his 16 yard pass fourth quarter pass to Tight End Greg Olsen would be the game winner. Cam Newton would have another big passing game in Week 4 with 374 yards with a Touchdown pass and two Touchdown runs. However, the Panthers would suffer another tough loss on the road against the Chicago Bears 34-29. The pattern of big games from Cam Newton and hard luck losses continued the following week as the Panthers were beaten at home by the New Orleans Saints 30-27. Following a mistake filled loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers finally had a complete effort from Cam Newton coupled with a win, as he passed for 256 yards, and rushed for 59 yards while getting a TD with his arms and legs again during a 33-20 win over the Washington Redskins. However, the following week would bring more frustration as Newton had two costly fumbles spoil another strong game as the Panthers were beaten by the Minnesota Vikings 24-21. After going into the bye week with a 2-6 record, the Panthers came out flat against the Tennessee Titans and suffered a listless 30-3 loss at home. Playing on the road against the Detroit Lions a week later, the Panthers got off to a quick start and led 27-14 at halftime. However, Cam Newton threw four interceptions as the Lions scored 35 points in the second half to win the game 49-35. Against the Indianapolis Colts, the following week the Panthers would earn their first road win of the season, as DeAngelo Williams had two touchdowns in a 27-19 win against the winless Colts. With Cam Newton collecting three rushing Touchdowns, the Panthers would get a second straight win on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-19. Despite having a halftime lead at home, the Panthers could not extend their winning streak, as they were beaten by the Flacons for the second time 31-23. The Panthers would bounce back to beat the Houston Texans 28-13. Coming home, Cam Newton would have his best game of the season, passing for 171 yards, with three touchdowns and 65 rushing yards with a TD as the Panthers crushed the Buccaneers 48-16. The Panthers season would end a week later with a 45-17 road loss to the Saints. However, their 6-10 season was seen as a major first step forward. Quarterback Cam Newton, would win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, after one of the most spectacular rookie seasons in NFL history. With 4,051 yards, Newton set a record for passing yards by a rookie, while his 706 rushing yards set a new NFL record. He also set a record for most rushing Touchdowns by a quarterback with 14, while adding 21 Touchdown passes.
2012: Coming off a record breaking rookie season, the Panthers looked for Cam Newton to take another step forward and get the team back into playoff contention. However, in the season opener Newton struggled, throwing two interceptions as the Panthers were upended by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10. In their home opener, the Panthers got an early pick six from Charles Godfrey and sharper play from Cam Newton to end a four game losing streak against the New Orleans Saints, with a 35-27 win. However, four days later on Thursday Night Football Newton struggled again, as the Panthers suffered an ugly 36-7 loss at home. On the road against the Atlanta Falcons, Cam Newton had one of his best efforts of the season, with 215 passing yards and two touchdowns, and 86 rushing yards with a four yard touchdown run, while avoiding a turnover. However, the Panthers lost the game in heartbreaking fashion as Matt Bryant won the game for the Falcons 30-28 with a 40 yard Field Goal as time expired. Cam Newton struggled in his next two games, both of which were home losses to the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys. At 1-5, the Panthers playoff hopes were already on like support as General Manager Marty Hurney was dismissed. Following Hurney’s dismissal the Panthers came out strong building a 19-7 lead over the Chicago Bears on the road. However, Cam Newton had a pass picked off and returned for a Touchdown by Tim Jennings as the Bears rallied to win the game 23-22 on Robbie Gould’s 41 yard Field Goal. Facing Robert Griffin III for the first time would bring out the best in Cam Newton, who in a full blown offensive slump as he played mistake free football passing for 201 yards with a Touchdown pass and a Touchdown run as the Panthers got their second win of the year by beating the Washington Redskins on the road 21-13. Returning home, the Panthers would suffer another setback, as Cam Newton was picked off twice in a 36-14 loss to the Denver Broncos. A week later the Panthers would suffer their most agonizing loss of the season, as they built a 21-10 lead against the Buccaneers in the 4th Quarter, with Cam Newton playing a turnover free game, while Captain Munnerlyn returning an interception 74 yards for a score. After cutting the deficit to 21-13, the Bucs tied the game with a TD and two point conversion as time expired, in both cases it was Vincent Jackson catching a pass from Josh Freeman. The Panthers would never see the ball in overtime as the Bucs got the coin toss and drove down the field on a Dallas Clark touchdown catch to win the game 27-21. At 2-8 the Panthers were just playing for pride, as most expected Coach Ron Rivera to be on his way out. However, after struggling most the first ten games, Cam Newton had a breakout performance during a Monday Night on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, Newton would pass for 306 yards with two touchdowns and run for 52 yards with two rushing touchdowns as the Panthers 30-22. Despite a disappointing loss to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs the following week, the Panthers would finish the season strong winning their last four games to finish the season with a record of 7-9, which would save Ron Rivera’s job. Despite struggling most of the season, Cam Newton would also finish strong passing for 3,869 yards with 19 touchdowns, while rushing for 741 yards with eight touchdown runs. The Panthers would get their second straight Rookie of the Year as Linebacker Luke Kuechly was named the top Defensive Rookie, with a league high 164 tackles.
2013: Heading into the season, it was clearly a make or break year for the Panthers as they had an Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year in back-to-back seasons, yet they had not been in the playoff picture putting Coach Ron Rivera on the hot seat. The Panthers opened the season against the Seattle Seahawks, and found themselves in a defensive battle. The Panthers had the lead early on a touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Steve Smith, but their offense was stopped cold the rest of the way. The Seahawks would eventually take the lead in the 4th Quarter and win the game 12-7. As a costly DeAngelo Williams fumble at the Seattle 8-yard line with 5:25 ended any hope to win the game. The Panthers offense would play better in Week 2, but once again left the game with a bitter taste in their mouths as they were beaten by the Buffalo Bills 24-23 on a TD pass from EJ Manuel to Stevie Johnson with two seconds left. The Panthers appeared to have the game won a few moments earlier but Luke Keuchly’s was called for pass interference, wiping away a game sealing interception and giving the Bills new life. Desperately needing a win, the Panthers returned home and laid an old fashioned whoppin’ on the New York Giants. Cam Newton, despite an interception had a fine game with 223 passing yard and three touchdowns, while the defense sacked Eli Manning seven times to win the game 38-0 in the biggest blowout in team history. The Panthers would come out flat, following the bye week, as Cam Newton was picked off three times in an ugly 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Newton would play much better a week later, with three Touchdowns through the air and one on the ground as the Panthers crushed the Minnesota Vikings 35-10 for their first road win of the year. The best development in the game is that Cam Newton had a turnover free game for the first time all season. Newton would have another turnover free game against, as the Panthers returned home to face the St. Louis Rams. The Panthers defense meanwhile had a big game, as Captain Munnerlyn returned a Sam Bradford interception 45 yards for a Touchdown 21 seconds into the game to help spark the Panthers to a 30-15. The Panthers turnaround continued against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as Newton again avoided making any turnovers as the Panthers won on the road 31-13 to climb above .500. The winning streak continued against the Atlanta Falcons, as they cracked 30 points for a franchise record four straight games. Newton’s streak of no turnovers ended during the 34-10 win, put the Panthers defense more than made up for it, picking off Matt Ryan three times, including one that was returned by Drayton Florence for a game sealing touchdown in the 4th Quarter. Following four straight wins, the Panthers faced a big test as they traveled across the country for a showdown with the San Francisco 49ers. Ealy on things did not go well, as the Niners completely stopped the Panthers offense, forcing an early turnover. However, they only managed three Field Goals, as the Panthers defense kept their team in the game. DeAngelo Williams would get the Panthers on the board with a touchdown before halftime. In the second half the defense would take over as neither team was able to move the ball. The Panthers would take the lead on a 53 yard Field Goal by Graham Gano early in the 4th Quarter. Thanks to a superior defensive effort, the lead would hold as the Panthers improved to 6-3 with a 10-9 win, holding the 49ers to 151 yards total offense. The Panthers would face another test the following week, as the returned home to face the New England Patriots in a Monday Night Showdown. Cam Newton outplayed Tom Brady, passing for 209 yards with three touchdowns and adding 62 rushing yards as he connected with Ted Ginn Jr. on a 25 yard Touchdown pass with 59 seconds left. Leading 24-20 the Panthers needed to sweat out a drive by Tom Brady, but Robert Lester made the game saving interception in the endzone as time ran out. At 8-3, the Panthers had to be on guard for letdown as they faced the Miami Dolphins on the road. Things look bleak early as they trailed at the half 16-6, as Gano helped get some momentum with a 46 yard Field Goal as the half came to an end. The Panthers would begin to claw their way back as Cam Newton scored on a five yard run in the 3rd quarter. The Panthers defense meanwhile shutdown Miami in the second half. Down 16-13, the Panthers would get the win 20-16 as Newton connected with Greg Olsen with 43 seconds left. The winning streak would eventually hit a franchise record eight straight as they beat the Buccaneers for a second time 27-6. However, in a Sunday Night showdown at the Superdome the Panthers streak would end with a 31-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, as Drew Brees had three touchdowns in the 2nd Quarter and never looked back. The Panthers would rebound with a 30-20 win over the New York Jets, as Cam Newton connected with DeAngelo Williams on a 73 yard screen pass to bring Bank America Stadium to its feet, while Captain Munnerlyn sealed the win with a 41 yard pick six. With a playoff spot on the line, the Panthers faced the Saints for the second time in three weeks. This time, their defense was ready for Drew Brees as Luke Kuechly was a one man wrecking crew, setting a single game record with 26 tackles and adding an interception as the Panthers won 17-13, as Newton won another game late connecting with Domenik Hixon on 14 yard TD with 23 seconds left to win the game. The game would help catapult Kucehly to the Defensive Player of the Year Award, becoming just the second player in NFL history to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons along with Lawrence Taylor. The Panthers would go on to win the NFC South by beating the Falcons 21-20 in the regular season finale. The 12-4 record for the Panthers earned the team a playoff bye, as Ron Rivera who began the season on the hot seat was named Coach of the Year.
2013 Playoffs: The Panthers would host the reigning NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Playoff Round. The game was the Panthers strong defense against the 49ers experience as both teams were 12-4 during the regular season. After the 49ers dominated the 1st Quarter with two Field Goals, the Panthers found their footing in the 2nd Quarter as Steve Smith scored on a 31 yard pass from Cam Newton to give Carolina the lead. The Panther would eventually build a 10-7 lead on a Graham Gano Field Goal. However, just before the half ended the 49ers regained control with a 12 play 80 yard TD drive that was ended with a pass from Colin Kaepernick to Vernon Davis with five seconds left. In the second half Cam Newton was handled like a ragdoll as the 49ers went on to win the game 23-10. Newton was picked off twice and sacked four times in his first postseason game.
2014: The Carolina Panthers kicked off their 20th season, with their biggest star on the sideline as Quarterback Cam Newton was unable to start the opener on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after suffering a rib injury in the preseason. Without Newton, Derek Anderson played well passing for 230 yards with two touchdowns as the Panthers opened the season with a 24-20 win. In their home opener a week later, Cam Newton returned and managed the game well, avoiding turnovers while passing for 281 yards while the Panthers defense forced three turnovers in a 24-7 win over the Detroit Lions. The Panthers defense would struggle in their next two games against the AFC North, losing 37-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Sunday Night affair at Bank of America Stadium. A week later the Panthers would suffer a 38-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, with longtime Panther Steve Smith Sr. setting the tone early with a 61 yard touchdown reception. The loss of Smith was a big one for the Panthers, as Carolina had one of least experience receiving corps. Fortunately Rookie Kelvin Benjamin the Panthers top draft pick out of Florida State established himself early as Carolina’s top pass catcher. Benjamin would score nine touchdowns with 1,008 yards receiving. The Panthers would get back on the winning track with a 31-24 victory over the Chicago Bears, was the Greg Olsen scored twice against his former team including the game winner in the fourth quarter. The Panthers defense continued to struggle against teams from the AFC North, allowing 34 points. Fortunately Carolina was able to match every score, tying the game at the end of regulation on a 44 yard Field Goal by Graham Gano. In overtime, the Bengals used a long drive, but only managed a 42 yard Field Goal giving the Panthers a chance to match again, which they would on 36 yard Field Goal by Gano as they finished in a 37-37 draw. From there the Panthers season went into a complete tailspin losing their next six games. The Panthers defense which a year earlier was one of the best in the NFL, was among the big disappointments at it was becoming clear that they were missing Greg Hardy, who was the team’s leading pass rusher. Convicted of Domestic Violence assault against his girlfriend, Hardy played the season opener but was shut down after public pressure built following the NFL’s handling of Ray Rice’s suspension with the Ravens. Greg Hardy would never suit up for the Panthers again and was released after the season, as his case was appealed in a North Carolina court. Four of the six losses were by double digits, while the other two were simply gut wrenching, including a 13-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, with Luke Wilson scoring the winning touchdown with 47 seconds left and a 19-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. Holding a 3-8-1 record as December began the Panthers appeared to be playing just for pride as they faced the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. With Cam Newton having his finest game of the season, the Panthers ended their losing streak with a 41-10 win. Newton would pass for 226 yards, with three touchdowns and ran for 83 yards with another score. Jonathan Stewart also had a big day, rushing for 155 yards, highlighted by a 69 yard score in the third quarter. Things were not all rosy for the Panthers as Cam Newton came out of the game with a sore back and was inactive in Week 15 against the Buccaneers. Once again Derek Anderson was solid in relief as the Panthers escaped with a 19-17 win and in a division without a team with a winning record remained in the playoff hunt despite a 5-8-1 record. Cam Newton would return a week later as the Panthers hosted the Cleveland Browns in their final home game of the season. Despite three turnovers, the Panthers slipped by with a 17-13 win to give themselves their own playoff destiny. With the NFC South on the line, the Panthers faced the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in the last game of the season. The Panthers controlled the game early, with Ed Dickson catching a five yard touchdown toss from Cam Newton to build a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The Panthers continued to control the game in the second quarter as Roman Harper returned an interception 31 yards to help build a 24-3 halftime lead. The game was never in doubt, as the Panthers with an 84 yard pick six from Tre Boston won going away 34-3 to become just the second team in NFL history with a losing record to win a division with a record of 7-8-1.
2014 Playoffs: In the Wild Card Round the Panthers at 7-8-1 would host the Arizona Cardinals who were 11-5 in the regular season, but limped into the game with a third string quarterback. The Panthers took control of the game early, with Jonathan Stewart’s 13 yard run allowing them to build a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. However, the Cardinals would battle back with two touchdowns to take the lead. After Graham Gano ended the first half scoring with a 39 yard Field Goal, the Panthers regained the lead in the third quarter, quickly turning good field position into a score as Fozzy Whittaker caught a 39 yard TD pass from Cam Newton. The Panthers defense would take over the game the rest of the way, allowing just 12 yards total offense in the second half and recorded low 78 yards in the entire game forcing three turnover as the Panthers advanced to the division round with a 27-16 win. Facing the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers once again gave the defending Super Bowl Champions all they could handle despite the roars from the 12th man as they trailed 14-10 at the end of three quarters. However, the Seahawks would pull away in the end with Cam Chancellor returning a Cam Newton interception 90 yards for a touchdown to win the game 31-17.
2015: The Carolina Panthers carried the momentum of their strong finish into the new season, as they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-9. The Panthers defense played a big role, shutting out the Jaguars in the second half as Josh Norman broke the game open with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown. The win would prove costly as a concussion knocked Luke Kuechly out for the next three weeks. In the Panthers home opener Cam Newton carried Carolina to a 24-17 win, passing for 195 yards with two touchdowns, while rushing for 71 yards with a highlight reel flip into the endzone. In their first division game, the Panthers battled the New Orleans Saints to a 27-22 win in Charlotte. Cam Newton had another big game, passing for 315 yards with two touchdown passes to Greg Olsen. However, the Panthers needed a Josh Norman interception in the endzone in the game’s final minutes. A week later Josh Norman had a 46-yard pick six, while Ed Dickson scooped up a fumble and returned it 56 yards, while Ted Ginn Jr. had two touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 37-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to improve to 4-0. After a bye week, the Panthers face their nemesis the Seattle Seahawks who had eliminated them in the playoffs a year earlier and won four close games in three years. Facing a hostile crowd and an unexpected early wakeup call when fire alarm was pulled at the team hotel at 5:45 AM. Things looked bleak for the Panthers, as they trailed 20-7 late in the third quarter. Jonathan Stewart got Carolina back in the game with a touchdown, but the Seahawks answered with a Field Goal and held a 23-14 lead with five minutes left. Stewart again found the endzone with 3:55 left. After turning aside the Seahawks, the Panthers drove 80 yards, with Cam Newton found Greg Olsen wide open in the endzone for a 26 yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left to win the game. After their dramatic win in Seattle, the Panthers continued to roll improving to 6-0 with a 27-16 Sunday Night win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers were primetime performers again a week later as they hosted the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. With a steady rain falling, the Panthers dominated most of the night, building a 23-6 lead. The Colts would come roaring back scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime as Adam Vinatieri ended regulation with a 24-yard Field Goal. Vinatieri would give the Colts the lead in overtime from 50 yards out on the first possession. However, with a chance to answer the Panthers did as Graham Gano was good from 42 yards. Luke Kuechly would pick off Andrew Luck on the next possession setting up Gano to win the game from 52 yards. With a 29-26 win the Panthers were 7-0 for the first time in franchise history. Hosting the Green Bay Packers, the Panthers again got off to a fast start, scoring 24 points in the second quarter to take a 27-7 lead at the half. The Packers would come alive in the second half as Aaron Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb to cut the deficit to 27-14. The Panthers would answer as Gano added a Field Goal while Cam Newton began the fourth quarter with his third touchdown pass to take a 37-14 lead. The Packers though answered scoring twice, to pull within eight points. The Packers appeared to be driving for a possible game tying score, when Thomas Davis picked off Rodgers to preserve 37-9 win. Cam Newton dabbed after a two yard run in the fourth quarter creating a new celebration that was quickly imitated as the Panthers moved to a 9-0 with a 27-10 win over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Newton set a new team record the following week with five touchdowns to five different receivers as the Panthers continued to roll with a 44-16 win over the Washington Redskins at home. Wearing all blue, the Panthers carved the Dallas Cowboys 33-14, on Thanksgiving. The Panthers defense was king of the feast, intercepting Tony Romo three times, with Kurt Coleman and Luke Kueckly each having a pick six in the first half. A week later the Panthers had the NFC South clinched for the third straight season before they even took the field against the Saints at the Superdome. Perhaps the Panthers were celebrating before the game too as they came out flat and fell behind 14-0. Carolina answered with two scores in the second quarter but still trailed 16-13, as the Saints had the first defensive PAT return in NFL history. Cam Newton put the Panthers in front with two touchdowns in the third quarter but the Saints answered with two scores of their own as they game swung back and forth. Down 38-34. Cam Newton led a thrilling game winning drive, connection with Jerricho Cotchery with 1:05 left to win the game 41-38. Returning home it was one long party for the Panthers as they rolled to 13-0 with a 38-0 whitewashing of the Atlanta Falcons as their defense forced four turnovers and had five sacks, while Cam Newton had one career best QB rating of 153.3. A week later in the Meadowlands Josh Norman battled with Odell Beckham Jr. all day as the Panthers leaped out to a 35-7 lead against the New York Giants. Norman covering Beckham forced the Giants all-pro into three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Though in a pattern that sometimes proved troubling the Panthers allowed the Giants back in the game, and found the scored tied 35-35 in the fourth quarter. Cam Newton pointed at himself and answered driving down to the Giants 36 yard line to set Graham Gano up to win the game 38-35 on a 43 yard Field Goal as time expired. A week later the Panthers winning streak would finally come to an end as the same Falcons team they dominated at home two weeks earlier won a back and forth battle in Atlanta 20-13. The Panthers would close the regular season with a 38-10 win over the Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium, as Cam Newton with two touchdown runs tied Steve Young’s record for touchdowns by a quarterback with 43. With their 15-1 season complete Ron Rivera would go on to be named Coach of the Year, while Cam Newton was named NFL MVP, while also winning the Offensive Player of the Year Award. Newton’s season was nothing short of amazing as he passed for 3,837 yards with 35 touchdowns and ten interceptions, while also rushing for 636 yards with another ten scores.
2015 Playoffs: With a sea of white towels waiving at Bank of America Stadium the Carolina Panthers hosted the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Playoff Round. The Seahawks who represented the NFC in the previous two Super Bowls represented a major hurdle for the Panthers. Many of those fans were still standing when Jonathan Stewart opened the game with a 59-yard run. Stewart would score on a four yard touchdown run just a few play later, this was followed 52 seconds later by a 14-yard pick six from Luke Kuechly. The Panthers continued to dominate in the second quarter, eventually building a 31-0 lead. Often during the regular season, the Panthers built a big lead only to hang on late after allowing their opponents back in the game. That pattern would continue against the Seahawks, as Seattle scored 24 unanswered points after halftime. The last points came on a 36-yard Field Goal by Steven Hauschka with 1:12 left. That would be as close as the Seahawks would get as Thomas Davis recovered an on-side kick to preserve the 31-24 victory. In the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Panthers would get off to just as fast of start, scoring 17 unanswered points in the first quarter highlighted by an 89-yarrd touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Corey Brown. The Cardinals answered with a touchdown in the second quarter, but Carolina again stretched the lead to 17 points on a one yard Newton TD run. This time there would be no comeback as the Panthers kept pounding the Cardinals in the second half led by a defense that forced seven turnovers, with Kuechly adding another pick six to close out an impressive 49-15 win that sent the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50.
Super Bowl 50: The Carolina Panthers were a five and half point favorite as they faced the Denver Broncos in the golden Super Bowl in Santa Clara. The Panthers entered the game with the NFL’s top offense as they faced the top ranked defense. Early on things looked bad for Carolina, as the Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead, with Von Miller’s strip sack of Cam Newton leading directly to a Denver touchdown. The Panthers were able to settle things down and got on the board in the second quarter with a run by Jonathan Stewart. Trailing 13-7 at the half, the Broncos defense continued to rough up Cam Newton forcing four turnovers including another strip sack by Von Miller that would seal the game for the Broncos who captured the Lombardi Trophy with a 24-10 win.
2016: The Carolina Panthers shortest offseason must have felt long the longest one after their 15-1 dream season was spoiled by a loss in Super Bowl 50. They would however have a chance for payback as they opened the season with a rematch with the Denver Broncos at Mile High. Early on things looked good for Carolina as they dominated the first half and led 17-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. However, the Broncos scored twice early in the fourth quarter as Cam Newton threw an interception as he was under pressure much of the second half. The Panthers would have a chance to win the game, but Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal as time expired, allowing Denver to win again 21-20. Cam Newton and the Panthers came out smoking in their home opener, as they pasted the San Francisco 49ers 46-27, with Newton passing for 353 yards with four touchdowns. The Panthers got off to a good start in Week 3, leading the Minnesota Vikings 10-0 early at Bank of America Stadium. The rest of the game would be a nightmare for Cam Newton and the Panthers as the Vikings won 22-10 to end Carolina’s 14-game home winning streak, as Newton was picked off three times and sacked eight times, including a safety. Cam Newton was under duress again in Week 4, as he suffered a concussion as the Panthers dropped to 1-3, with an ugly 48-33 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers continued to struggle a week later, as Derek Anderson got the start on Monday Night Football, as Carolina suffered a 17-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cam Newton returned in Week 6, and led three fourth quarter scoring drives, however the Panthers struggles continued again as they lost to the New Orleans Saints 41-38 in the Superdome. After hitting the bye week with 1-5 record, the Panthers faced the Arizona Cardinals in a NFC Championship Game rematch with each team struggling coming into the game. Carolina got a big break early as Thomas Davis returned a fumble 46 yards for the game’s first score. With Jonathan Stewart rushing for 95 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns, the Panthers got back on track with a 30-20 win at home. A week later the Panthers won their first road game of the year, beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-10 to improve to 3-5. The Panthers appeared to be on their way to a fourth straight win as they led the Kansas City Chiefs 17-3 at the start of the fourth quarter in Week 10. However, the Panthers were their own worst enemy as Cam Newton threw a pick six, while Kelvin Benjamin was stripped deep Carolina territory as the Chiefs scored 17 unanswered points to win the game 20-17. The Panthers only had four days to get over the collapse against the Chiefs as they hosted the Saints on Thursday Night Football. Leading 23-3 in the fourth quarter the Panthers nearly let another one get away as the Saints scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, as the Panthers barely held on to a 23-20 win. In the game Luke Kuechly suffered a concussion and would miss the rest of the season. One the road against the Oakland Raiders, the Panthers could have used Kuechly as they rallied from a 24-7 halftime lead to take a 32-24 lead in the fourth quarter before the Raiders retook control of the game late, winning 35-35 on a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. On Sunday Night a week later, the Panthers faint playoff hopes were put to sleep in a 40-7 loss on the road against the rival Seattle Seahawks. The Panthers would split their final four games, finishing in last place in the NFC South with a 6-10 record. It was an especially rough season for Cam Newton, who after winning the NFL MVP was limited to 3,509 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions was sacked 36 times, and needed offseason shoulder surgery.
2017: Heading into the season, the Carolina Panthers looked to rebound from a disappointing 2016 campaign, where they clearly suffered from a Super Bowl hangover. Coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera looked to Heisman runner-up Christian McCaffrey from Stanford to be a new weapon for his former MVP quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers headed out to San Francisco to face the 49ers, winning the opener 23-3. In Week 2, the Buffalo Bills came into Charlotte, it was a sloppy defensive battle which led the Panthers to a 9-3 victory. However, in Week 3 the Panther fell victim to their division rivals, the New Orleans Saints 34-13. After suffering their first loss of the season, the Carolina Panthers headed into the treacherous Gillette Stadium to face the defending Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots. Thanks to a Graham Gano game-winner the Carolina Panthers narrowly escaped with a 33-30 win as Cam Newton, passed for 316 yards with three touchdowns. Just like the previous week, the Panthers were in a nail-biter with the Detroit Lions, winning 27-24 with Newton throwing another three touchdowns, with 355 yards. Four days later the Panthers were not as fortunate, as they stumbled at home losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 28-23 as Cam Newton was picked off three times. The Panthers would end up suffering a second straight loss in Week 7 as they could only muster a field goal in an embarrassing 17-3 loss to the Chicago Bears, with Eddie Jackson having two long defensive returns for Chicago. In Week 8, the Carolina Panthers played the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. In a defensive slugfest, the Carolina Panthers won 17-3, as they sat at 5-3 at the season’s midpoint. With division rival, Atlanta Falcons, coming into town, the Carolina Panthers looked for a big divisional win, Cam Newton struggled to throw the ball, however, excelled using his legs leading the Panthers to a 20-17 victory. In a Week 10 game on Monday Night Football, the Carolina Panthers looked to pounce on the beat-up Miami Dolphins. Cam Newton had an outstanding game throwing four touchdowns, two of which went to young receiver Devin Funchess. The Panthers would win the game by a score of 45-21 and went into the Bye Week at 7-3. In Week 12, the Panthers returned to action and found would find themselves to be in an old school shootout with the New York Jets. Another big day from receiver Devin Funchess who made his catches in bunches led the way to a 35-27 victory. The Carolina Panthers had their most difficult test of the season, heading into the Superdome to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 13. The Panthers fell to the Saints thanks in large part to Mark Ingram who had 122 all-purpose yards. Just like that Week 14 approached with the bruising Minnesota Vikings coming to town. Although Cam struggled in this game, the majority of the offense was led by backup running back Jonathan Stewart who had three touchdowns. The Panthers would go on to win this game 31-24 and move to 9-4. The Green Bay Packers were in town for a meeting with the Panthers in Week 15. Cam Newton had one of his best games all season where he threw for four touchdowns. On the other side, in his return from his broken collarbone, Aaron Rodgers was picked off three times as Carolina had its second straight 31-24 win. In week 16, the Panther squeaked by the abysmal Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 22-19. With the division on the line for Carolina, and the Atlanta Falcons needing a win just to get in the playoffs the final game of the season was the most important on the NFL schedule. Cam Newton had a very poor performance throwing for three interceptions as the Falcons won 22-10, with the Panthers settling for the Wild Card at 11-5. After a disappointing 2016, Newton bounced back in 2017 passing for 3,302 yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, while rushing for 754 yards with six TDs.
Written by L. Collins
2017 NFL Playoffs: In a divisional battle in between the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints, both MVP caliber quarterbacks brought their A games. It was a quiet start to both teams offensively before Drew Brees bombed a dime to former Panther Ted Ginn Jr. Heading into the second quarter the Saints took a 7-0 lead. Carolina’s offense kept sputtering just before punching the ball in the end zone settling for three field goals before going into the half. On the other side of the Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The Saints took a commanding lead 21-9 going into the break. The third quarter came around and both defenses held up only allowing a field goal. Going into the final quarter, the Saints were leading 24-12. Cam throw a bullet in the end zone to star tight end Greg Olsen to bring the Panthers to within striking distance. New Orleans Saints breakout running Alvin Kamara punched in a two-yard run for a touchdown. Cam would then find their own rookie back Christian McCaffery for a 56-yard touchdown pass. The New Orleans would, however, win the game 31-26 and advance to play the Minnesota Vikings the following week. Following the season, an era came to an end as Jerry Richardson, who owned the team from the start was forced to sell after allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconuct. The Panthers would be purchased by David Tepper for a record $2.2 Billion.
Written by L. Collins
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Page created on August 24, 2002. Last updated on September 5, 2018 at 11:50 pm ET.